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This specimen from the collection of The Geological Museum of the AGH University of Science and Technology is unusual, because in its crystal structure is a foreign body. This phenomenon is called inclusion (known as organic infix too). Inclusion has its strict regularities, for example – the presence of another mineral in the mineral, like diamond in a diamond structure. Sometimes, completely by accident...

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Presented halite comes from the miocene deposits in Bochnia. Halites are created in the evaporation process of sea water or salt lakes, in soils it crystallize from salty soil solutions. The mineral crystallizing in a regular system, by creating cubic crystal forms. Halite forms a monomineral rock, called halitite, known as table salt.
This specimen from the collection of The Geological Museum of the AGH University of Science and Technology is unusual, because in its crystal structure is a foreign body. This phenomenon is called inclusion (known as organic infix too). Inclusion has its strict regularities, for example – the presence of another mineral in the mineral, like diamond in a diamond structure. Sometimes, completely by accident, in some minerals preserved different species of plants or insects (eg. amber inclusions), often extinct. Thanks to this (we may say – some kind of mineral defect”), we can know the creatures which lived before few million years or, as in case of the present specimen, the grass. 

Elaborated by the editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Grass from 5 million years ago!

As short-lived as a blade of grass... And yet this common comparison does not always turn out to be true. In the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums you can see blades of grass that have survived over 5 million years! Frozen in a halite crystals, they are like jewels in a transparent frame. Although the green hue has lost its vibrancy...

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As short-lived as a blade of grass... And yet this common comparison does not always turn out to be true. In the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums you can see blades of grass that have survived over 5 million years! Frozen in a halite crystals, they are like jewels in a transparent frame. Although the green hue has lost its vibrancy, it is still visible Halit with organic intrusions (grass).

The era of grass

The Miocene – as estimated by geologists – lasted for 17 million years (from 23.03 million to 5.332 million years ago). During this time, the landscape was transformed: the collision of the continents of Europe and Africa, India and Asia caused the rise of the Alps and the Himalayas.
Although, considering geological eras, it was the warmest period; in the middle of this period the climate gradually began to cool down, which contributed to a reduction in forested areas.
The Miocene was the era of grass, which coped with the climate conditions of that time well; it was an important source of food for animals. A typical landscape of this period was a meadow populated by various species of animals – ruminants. Deer, giraffes, elephants; in North America bears, sloths and mastodons; prehistoric pigs, rabbits and cats in Africa.

See also what insects from millions of years ago looked like.

Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Kraków Saltworks deposits

Salt exploitation history is connected in Poland, with the Miocen marine deposits filling the Pre-Carpathian basin. The salt series thickness varies from 250 m in Wieliczka up to 1500 m close to Wojnicz. It is built of five cyclothems, that is sedimentation cycles, beginning from aggregated  and argillaceous rocks (sandstones, mudstones, claystone), argillo-calcerous and anhydrite claystone to anhydrites and halites.

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Salt exploitation history is connected in Poland, with the Miocen marine deposits filling the Pre-Carpathian basin. The salt series thickness varies from 250 m in Wieliczka up to 1500 m close to Wojnicz. It is built of five cyclothems, that is sedimentation cycles, beginning from aggregated  and argillaceous rocks (sandstones, mudstones, claystone), argillo-calcerous and anhydrite claystone to anhydrites and halites. The Carpathian overthrust caused strong folding of the salt series and formed local concentrations of salt of industrial value. The Miocen halite deposits occure in the Carpathian forground, between Wieliczka (West) and Tarnów (East). The historical sources  of the 11th and the 13th centuries mention bestowments and privileges of salt  mining. The documents certify that salt exploitation has been continued in ”Wieliczka” and  ”Bochnia” salt mines for over 700 years. They belonged to the Kraków Salt Mines, that together with the Russian Salt Mines (Kałusz, Tyrawa Solna, Jasienica, Starasól, Stebnik, Modrycz, Solec, Sołotwina and Truskawiec) constituted the Royal Salt Mines. The salt mines brought profits for local people, tenants and the king. Archaeological investigations provide more and more proofs confirming salt exploitation in the area. About 3500 years BC. Bochnia area was already known as a place where salt was obtained by means of an evaporation method. Ancient coins dating back to the Emperor Hadrian times as well as chert and flint tools were found on slag heaps of the Russian Salt Mines.  Due to development of the bore-hole method in salt mining, wider exploitation of the Zechstein salt deposits, the old salt mines began to loose their importance. Currently they function mainly as tourist attractions and sanitariums. In Bochnia, the lowest levels (from the XVI to the X) have been backfilled and the historical part (from the level I to IX) has been adapted for touristic purposes. The ”Wieliczka” salt mine reaches the depth of 327 m. It has 9 levels and about 300 km of excavations (galleries, inclined drifts, exploitation chambers, salt lakes, shafts and pits). Most of them are open for tourists. 

Elaborated by the Geological Museum at the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection of the AGH University of Science and Technology, © all rights reserved

See also:
Halite with organic inclusions
Halite crystals
Halite crystals from Groty Kryształowe [Crystal Caves]
Halite crystals on the watering can

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Halite with organic inclusions

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